It’s been a bit of a scorching few weeks in our London Smashing the Glass HQ – what we need is someone to fan us with palm leaves… fortunately there were plenty of those to be found at Tamara and Ilan’s wonderful Canada wedding!
Psychiatrist Tamara and family physician, Ilan, met when they were introduced by friends and they hit it off immediately. Their synagogue wedding celebrated the very best of their respective ashkenazi and sephardic backgrounds, creating a gorgeous fusion of cultures, set against the backdrop of their palm leaf theme.
All of the raw emotion of the highly personal day was captured by our fantastic STG Recommended Vendor, Niv Shimshon Photography, who (proud Jewish momma moment) proved to be the couple’s favorite vendor, of course.
We are big fans of the personalized table names, especially with the provided stories about the meanings behind the name choices – we’re sure we’ll see our STG couples creating their own versions!
That’s quite enough from us. Over to Tamara for the full story on all of her and Ilan’s big-day choices!
How we met
Tamara, the bride: Ashkenazi girl from Dundas, Hamilton, meets Sephardic Iraqi from Montreal!
We met three years ago, when we were introduced through two of our close friends, and we continue to feel so grateful they helped us find each other. Our friends (the matchmakers) happened to get engaged the week of our first date, so we actually met for the first time at their l’chaim! We love travelling the world, exploring our neighbourhood, or just ordering dinner, relaxing at home and watching various crime documentaries.
We got married at Beth Emeth Synagogue, Toronto ON.
A multicultural, palm leaf theme
For us, trying to incorporate all the traditions from both sides was very important. We wanted all the customs to merge together – from the ceremony, to the food, music, henna, and overall atmosphere.
Our names in Hebrew (Ilan = tree, Tamara = palm) translate to palm tree, and that is what inspired the palm leaf theme weaved through our dà©cor. The most important aspect was to make each guest feel like they were a part of something special.
Heidi Gruenspan was the planner, and our day-of coordinator was Samantha Rosen.
A local Toronto designer dress
We had a short engagement, and I knew that could make wedding dress shopping tricky since dress can take months to create.
My mom booked an appointment at Kleinfeld in Toronto, and it happened to be the weekend of Christopher Paunil‘s trunkshow. Not only did I love the designers, but we got to meet Christopher & Chalo (the team) and that made the experience very special.
I also was happy to support a local Toronto designer, and knowing the dress would be done in time was so reassuring. Christopher & Chalo actually made my mom’s custom dress and my cape for the ceremony, and they also came to our wedding reception!
The handsome groom
I should let you know that the groom is generally better dressed than me, and so I trusted him completely. He had a custom designed blue suit from Sydney’s in Toronto, and his shoes were Allen Edmonds.
Bridesmaids in navy
I wanted my bridesmaid to feel as comfortable as possible and to wear a dress that made each one feel good. I let them do their own thing and pick what they each wanted. Their dresses were navy (the groom hates black!) and they wore nude shoes.
A special ceremony, filled with creativity and love
We wanted our wedding to feel special, and to infuse as much love and creativity into it as we could. Ilan really made this happen, and brought our ideas to life. We had designed a program that outlined the bridal party, and explained our palm tree theme, and our appreciation to our guests and family.
We used talits from each of our grandfathers’ and affixed them to the chuppah canopy. The ceremony itself incorporated Ashkenazic and Iraqi customs and melodies. We used the synagogue chuppah, and added greenery, flowers and palm leaves.
A song written by the groom
For our first dance, the band sang The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack
Our fabulous photographer
Our photographer was our favorite vendor! We saw Niv Shimshon‘s photos and portfolio, and loved his work. He has the ability to capture emotions in their purest form, and that’s exactly what we wanted in our wedding photos. The photos were, and still are, just perfect.
Middle Eastern desserts
Instead of cake, we had Middle Eastern desserts, which were passed around during the henna.
Rosh Hashanah favors
Our wedding was in the fall, just after the Jewish New Year. We decided to mark this with our wedding favors, which were decorative ceramic pomegranates that the groom’s mother ordered from Israel. These were wrapped with Iraqi candies.
Personalized table names
Instead of just having regular table numbers, Ilan had the idea of naming our tables. And so our table names were also a way of letting our guests know a little more about our relationship, and representing other important aspects of our lives. Each table had a picture frame with a description (all designed and written by Ilan) of it.
The table names described our favorite places or moments (e.g. Mount Fuji in Japan where Ilan asked me to move in; Roncesvalles where we live and where Ilan proposed, or other special places around the world, like Montreal, Tel Aviv, and more). I think the guests could feel the love poured into this project.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
Have a short engagement (the details truly don’t matter in the end), wear comfortable shoes, and pause during your wedding to take it all in.
Tamara & Ilan’s little white book
Photographer – Niv Shimshon
Venue – Beth Emeth Synagogue
Wedding planner – Heidi Gruenspan
Bride’s dress – Christopher Paunil purchased at Kleinfeld
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Bride’s earrings – Stephanie Browne purchased at The Loved One
Groom’s attire – Sydney’s and Allen Edmonds
Hair + Makeup – The Private World of Mary Tripi and Robert Weir
Flowers – Wildflowers & Co
Band – Intentions Band